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Antipin, Griffith join lineup vs. Canucks

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Following their loss to Vegas on Tuesday, Phil Housley said that the Buffalo Sabres' fault was in their preparation. That game had been preceded by a day off, and Housley thought the Sabres lacked their competitive mindset when the puck dropped.

The Sabres find themselves in a similar position on Friday, hosting the Vancouver Canucks in their first game back from a long western road trip. 

"It was a valuable lesson," Housley said. "Coming off the road you tend to decompress as a player because you come home, you're with your family, you have to get that mindset of gearing up again and mentally preparing because Vancouver's a hardworking team. 

"We have to be ready when the puck drops to play a 60-minute game."

Video: Preview: VAN at BUF (10/20/17)

On Friday, the Sabres will have the benefit of adding two players to the lineup with something to prove. Seth Griffith will play after being scratched for the past two games, while Victor Antipin rejoins the lineup after sitting out the last four games. 

Griffith and Antipin will replace Zemgus Girgensons and Josh Gorges, respectively, both of whom are day-to-day with injuries. 

Griffith impressed for the Sabres in the preseason, beating out a group of young players that included Justin Bailey for a starting position on the right wing. In five regular-season games, he was held to one assist and three shots before being scratched in favor of Bailey on Sunday. 

"He's got to use his speed," Housley said. "That's what we've seen in exhibition games when he was contributing offensively. And everybody can compete in their own way. He's got to find ways to come up with loose pucks in the corner and attack the game. When he's just playing on the outside, he's ineffective. If we can get his speed going and compete into the battle, he'll be a factor."

Video: HOUSLEY: Pregame Interview

Antipin, meanwhile, averaged 15:08 of ice time during the first three games of the season. The Kazakhstan native is still adjusting to North America, having spent his entire playing career in Russia, and said that having an alternative view from the press box in recent games has been helpful.  

Antipin showed how his skating and offensive instincts can add to the rush during the preseason. Housley said the next step is to apply his skills more consistently in the defensive zone. 

"He's come a long way in that regard, with good stick position and good body position, and he's got to use his speed," Housley said. "That's one asset that he has, just to close quickly and create that body position early so we can stop that guy getting to the net."

Coverage on Friday begins at 6:30 p.m. with GMC Gamenight on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 7 p.m.


Scouting the Canucks

Vancouver is playing the second of back-to-back games, having lost 6-3 in Boston on Thursday night. Former Sabre goalie Anders Nilsson, who was coming off a shutout of the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots in the first period. 

Nilsson and Jacob Markstrom are competing for time in net, one of a few changes to the Canucks under first-year coach Travis Green. Longtime Canucks Daniel and Henrik Sedin are both averaging less than 15 minutes of ice time, which would make for their lowest marks in more than a decade. 

Leading the Canucks offensively so far this season are a couple of young forwards in Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. Horvat, 22, is tied with former Sabre Thomas Vanek for the team lead with three goals. Boeser, 20, has five points in four games since joining the lineup on Oct. 12. 


Projected lineup

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville
95 Justin Bailey - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
67 Benoit Pouliot - 23 Sam Reinhart - 25 Seth Griffith
26 Matt Moulson - 22 Johan Larsson - 17 Jordan Nolan

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen,
82 Nathan Beaulieu - 5 Matt Tennyson
19 Jake McCabe - 93 Victor Antipin

31 Chad Johnson
40 Robin Lehner

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